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What Does A Healthy Adult Relationship With Your Parents Actually Look Like?

September 28, 2022
Bianca Bee
Bianca Bee
Bianca Bee

We’d all love to have a healthy relationship with our parents. And many of us in our twenties genuinely believe that we do. But is that always true?

Relationships can be funny things. While they might seem healthy from the inside, they can be anything but from the outside.

In this post, we look at what a healthy parent-adult child relationship looks like and how you can emulate one.

You Accept Your Differences From  Each Other

Parents and children are always going to be different. Biology and circumstances guarantee that it will be that way.

The key here is to accept this reality. Kids will naturally take different values from their older relatives. It’s how things change and evolve.

The trick is for everyone to accept these differences and move on with them. 

You Have A Degree Of Emotional Separation

Codependence isn’t healthy at any stage in family life, but it becomes particularly problematic when you hit adulthood. Being emotionally bound to the whims of a parent isn’t fun and can make your relationship dysfunctional. 

That’s why you want a degree of emotional separation. You should see yourself as a standalone, independent person, not someone who needs to manage or absolve your elders.

You Avoid Old Traps

Parents and their children can sometimes encounter sticking points. Taboo or unresolved conflicts can fester under the surface and never really go away.

The way to deal with this isn’t just to sweep it under the carpet. Instead, you want to innovate around the difficulty. Find ways to slip around difficult conversations, avoid trigger words, and label others judgmentally, particularly your parents. If all else fails, divert their attention somewhere else.

You Establish Boundaries

Just as your parents would never accept financial elder abuse, you shouldn’t accept emotional entrapment or manipulation. If you sense any of this from your parents, step back. Tell them that they have overstepped the mark. Be clear on what is acceptable, and what isn’t. Make it clear that you now stand on your own two feet, even if that is difficult for them to accept. 

You Enjoy Interests Together

Healthy parents bond with their children over shared interests. They enjoy activities together and have fun on the weekends. They have hobbies that they share and commit to. Everyone focuses their attention on the activity, not on each other.

You Acknowledge What They Did For You

No parents were ever perfect. In an imperfect world, it’s not possible. And children shouldn’t expect that from them.

Most caregivers did what they could under the circumstances. And, as adults, many of us recognize the challenges they faced.

Instead of focusing on their faults, we should appreciate what they did that was right. We should recognize the effort they put in and the flaws they had to overcome. 

You Remain In Contact

Lastly, a healthy relationship with your parents means staying in contact but maintaining some distance at the same time. Even in strained relationships, there should be a modicum of communication, even if it isn’t regular.

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